HUNDREDS of residents in five remote villages of the 5th District have availed of free medical services and livelihood assistance from the government during the “Marching for Peace, Serving the Countryside” activities from June 16 to 26.

The beneficiaries are from Brgy. Quintin Remo in Moises Padilla, Brgy. San Agustin in Isabela, Brgy. Biao in Binalbagan, and Brgy. Carabalan and Brgy. Barangay Buenavista both in Himamaylan City.

Every other day for 11 days, the marching group and the bayanihan visited one far-flung barangay to give free medical and dental services, as well as distribute medicines, relief goods, food packs and livelihood supplies.

Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., who led the bayanihan group, said the activity is to show the government’s sincerity in reaching out to the marginalized sector through a civic activity.

The “Marching for Peace, Serving the Countryside” is a

Project of the Provincial Peace Integration and Development Unit (Pro-PIDU) composed of the provincial government, the Philippine Army through the 303rd Infantry Brigade, and the Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office.

It also involves all local government units and various departments of the provincial government, national government agencies and non-government organizations.

Last year, the Pro-PIDU first brought the program in the villages of the 1st District in northern Negros, including those in Escalante City, Toboso, and Calatrava.

The marching group is composed of about 1,000 personnel of the Philippine National Police units such as the 6th Special Action Forces (SAF), 6th Regional Public and Safety Battalion and the Philippine Army’s 303rd Brigade, 11th Infantry Battalion, 62nd Infantry battalion, 47th Infantry Battalion, 20th Infantry Battalion, 33rd CMO Coy and the Civilian Active Auxiliary.

The marching group oftentimes had to walk for three hours, under the heat of the sun or heavy rains, crossing dangerous rivers and unpaved roads, in reaching out to remote villages.

But for Col. Jon Aying, commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, “Blisters and body aches can easily heal. I hope that (the) scars from the communities’ hearts be touched with the culture of peace we are all longing.”

Aying said the “March for Peace” shows unity and affirm their commitment to peace, security and development.

He further urged communities to break the barriers that hinder them to grow and develop, away from the bondage of fear and poverty.

Marañon also urged the rebels to come back to the fold of the law and work with the government to attain real peace and progress.

“The real adversary is poverty and not our fellow Negrosanon. We must help one another to stop poverty,” the governor added.